Thursday, 9 February 2012

Wine of the week – Rioja Reserva (Red/Northern Spain)

Hi all,
February’s the time to fall in love and share some sparkling, tender, sweet and passionate  moments. With the cheese or not!
Week 2: La pasión roja suave with a surprisingly soft, medium and very approachable red Rioja @£5.99 (on offer). Heart-warming wine for the cold weather!

What is it?
A Spanish red wine made from Tempranillo (80%), Garnacha (20%) in the region of Rioja about 200miles North east from Madrid and 80miles south west from the Pyrenees.

What to expect
Appearance: medium ruby
Nose: soft & subtle savoury, leathery notes with hints of vanilla.
Palate: it’s very soft on the palate with very restrained and building flavours of baked generic black fruits, leathery notes and hints of vanilla. With surprisingly gentle alcohol, medium body and tannins, the wine still has a high level of acidity. The finish is relatively short but overall pleasant.

Score: 6/10 (wine shown)

You’ll like it if you like: concentrated black fruit aromas, soft vanilla, dusty/leathery aromas, Cabernet Sauvignon (e.g. Bordeaux); Sangiovese (Chianti).

Have it with
A roast leg of lamb; Manchego cheese; pheasant and gamebirds, Moussaka or bacon. Personally, I would go for the roasted leg of lamb.

Where to find it
1) Tesco - £5.99 – The D'avolas Etiqueta Negra. On offer at more than half price in Tesco. Not worth the full price but a good deal at £6.
2) Waitrose – £21.99. Muga Rioja Reserva. The real deal and the price to go with it!
3) Majestic – £7.49. Same brand. Slightly different wine.
4) Sainsburys - £10.49. Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva. Not tried.

Did you know?
> Rioja takes its name from the rio (‘river’ in Spanish) Oja, a tributary of the Ebro river that borders the area.
> There three sub-regions in Rioja: alta, alavesa and baja. The best wines are said to come from the the alta and alavesa limestone slopes.
> Rioja is Tempranillo’s heartland i.e. the area where the grape is the most planted in Spain. You will often see bottles that look just like a Rioja but say Tempranillo Crianza or similar. That means the wine is made from the same grape but a different region e.g. La Mancha or elsewhere.
The early ripening, thick-
skinned Tempranillo
is the key grape in the
red Rioja blend.
> Tempranillo is called by many names depending on where you are in Spain or the world: Cencibel, Tinta de Toro, Tinto de Madrid, Tinto del País, Tinto Fino, etc.
> Other grapes that can be found in a red Rioja: Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano.
> With Spanish wines, you will usually see on the label Joven (rarely), Crianza, Reserva & Gran Reserva. The terms relate to the length of time the wine has spent ageing in oak. In Rioja, the wines are required to spend a bit longer in oak to get their status. Joven wines will not spend any time in oak, Crianza wines will be aged for 2 years with minimum 1 in oak, Reserva wines age for 3 years with minimum 1 year in oak and Gran Reserva wines 5 years with minimum 2 years in oak. What difference does it make. The longer the ageing in oak barrels the softer & rounder, the more structured and the more complex aromas a wine will be.
> White Rioja is usually made of Viura, Malvasia or Garnacha blanca.
> Rosé Rioja is usually made from Garnacha Tinta.

Enjoy your wine this weekend!